Miami baseball has two player connections to Israeli Olympic team

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 16: (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 16: (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Current Miami baseball right-handed pitcher and position player Ben Wanger and former infielder and Major League Player Danny Valencia were two of the 24 players chosen for the Israeli Olympic team that will participate in the Toyko Olympics as announced on Monday.

Wanger had a 7.71 earned run average in the eight appearances as a pitcher and was zero for two with a walk, hitter batter and run scored in two official at-bats with the Hurricanes in 2021. Prior to transferring to Miami for the 2021 season, Wanger was previously at Yale and USC. Wanger was a 2020 second-team All-American.

Ahead of the 2021 season, Wanger was a preseason second-team All-American. With USC in 2020, Wanger did not allow an earned run in 6.1 innings across 13 appearances. Wanger hit .410 for USC in 2020. Injuries hindered the 2021 season with Miami for Wanger. Wanger never got a chance to make an impact with Miami.

After playing his freshman season at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Valencia transferred to Miami. Valencia’s mother Mindy comes from a Jewish family. Michael, Valencia’s father is Cuban and converted to Judaism. Valencia grew up in Boca Raton. Valencia played at Miami in 2005 and 2006.

In two seasons with the Miami baseball program Valencia .324 with a .475 slugging percentage with 124 runs batted in playing in 122 games during his two seasons with the Hurricanes. Following his final season with Miami, Valencia was a 19th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins.

Valencia made his Major League Debut in 2010 and had a nine-year career. Playing for seven teams including Minnesota, Valencia hit .268 with 96 home runs and 397 RBIs. Valencia is one of several former Major Leaguers on the Israeli Baseball roster than includes former All-Star second baseman, Ian Kinsler.

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Israel will make its Olympic debut on July 29 against South Korea. The Israelis matchup with the United States on July 30. Israel, South Korea and the U.S. are in Group B before a modified double-elimination medal round begins on August 1. Israel is a long shot with the Dominican Republic, Japan and Mexico in Pool A.